Indianapolis Motor Speedway reduces Indy 500 capacity to 25 percent, will require all fans to wear masks

Indianapolis Motor Speedway is committed to running the postponed Indianapolis 500 with fans.

The track said Tuesday that it would hold the Aug. 23 race in front of a crowd at “approximately” 25 percent. That figure is down from Indy’s earlier desire to host the race in front of a 50 percent capacity crowd as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the country.

Permanent seating capacity at IMS is over 200,000, so if the track does hit 25 percent of grandstand capacity, at least 50,000 people will be in attendance for the race. That would make it the most-attended sporting event since the pandemic began for better or worse.

NASCAR has held races with significant fan attendance over the past week. The All-Star Race on July 15 had a reported crowd of approximately 20,000 in attendance and a similarly sized crowd watched Sunday’s Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

The track’s release announcing its further-reduced capacity said that everyone in attendance would be required to wear a mask. This year’s Indy 500 will be the first with Roger Penske as the owner of both the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Penske’s purchase of the racing series and the track became official earlier in 2020.

“In June, we announced the race was on and that attendance would be limited to no more than 50 percent of capacity,” Penske Entertainment CEO Mark Miles said in a statement. “We also made clear we intended to do things differently this year. By offering credits to fans who had previously purchased tickets, encouraging those over 65 to stay at home, limiting attendance in the infield, reducing tickets in our suites and promising fans their decision to not attend would not impact their seniority or right to renew tickets for 2021, we now anticipate attendance at approximately 25 percent of capacity. We will welcome fans back, and we have an aggressive plan in place, which has been developed through collaboration with national, state and local health experts.”

The release also notes that anyone who had purchased tickets for the race when it was scheduled for May and wanted to still attend the August version would be able to attend despite the reduced capacity. That disclosure makes it easy to reason that a significant portion of Indy 500 ticketholders decided to not attend in 2020.

Tickets are also still available. IMS said anyone who wants to purchase a ticket for the race must do so by Friday if they want to buy through the track.

The race will also be the first at Indianapolis in 2020 with fans. The track hosted both IndyCar and the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series over the July 4 weekend but none of the three races were held with fans in the stands.

There was no Indy 500 in May in 2020. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
There was no Indy 500 in May in 2020. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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